Edulinks – week ending 03 June 2011

Dismissed as ‘speculation’, the Telegraph reports on rumours that the government is considering a plan to guarantee university places to students with at least two As and a B in their A-levels.

Look to Europe for ideas on improving HE, rather than America, says Buckingham’s Anthony Glees. According to Glees:

“Affordability, the cost to students of access to research-led teaching, is the most important single factor in working out value for money in universities. Once this is understood, it’s obvious that US higher education can be seen as very bad value compared with higher education in every single European Union member state.”

At the same time, Times Higher Education reports that for-profit education providers could be in for a rough ride in the UK:

“A financial report filed earlier this year by BPP’s parent company Apollo Group shows that $220 million (£134 million) was taken off the value of the UK’s only for-profit degree-awarding institution due to pessimism about the market’s prospects.”

It’s not just commercial providers that promote the feeling that students are increasingly seen as customers. Speaking at the Hay Festival, Professor John Sutherland said that the study of English Literature is in a ‘ruinous’ state. He explained, “Instead of saying ‘You must read Alexander Pope’, you say ‘Who would you like to read?'”

As for academics, Sutherland argued that “it’s now almost a disqualification to be well read, because it’s seen as indicative of thinness or lack of focus”.

I’ll leave you today with a short lecture about the way in which people are social animals. David Brooks gave this talk recently for RSA. RSA have a load of great talks, billing themselves as “an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges”. I definitely recommend their animated series of lectures.

For now, enjoy hearing about how interesting you are from David Brooks: